I confess that I have a love-hate relationship with Flesch readability scoring as it relates to SEO Writing. We use several tools to optimize our content. Most SEO tools include a Flesch scoring component. While I appreciate the detailed information and suggestions each tool provides, I dislike that it rewards authors who write at the fourth grader level. My delusion — and I invite you to join me — is that for B2B content marketing, the reader is more discerning. Audiences are more interested in well-laid out and intelligent content. They’re tired of slogging through banal and simplistic rehashings.
That said, I thought I’d try an experiment to see what lengths I’d have to rewrite one paragraph in order to get a good grade from Mr. Flesch.
SEO Writing Deemed Very Difficult
Here’s an except of original content that appeared in a previous blog about SEO Writing and keywords. As usual, I received a “very difficult” grade.
The term “keyword” is a bit of a misnomer. It can be one word, but more likely its a topic, phrase, “search query” or question asked on a search engine page. For example, we talk a lot about SEO, so a keyword we use is “what is SEO.” Think about how your target audience searches. What services do you provide? Or, what types of problems do you typically solve? That will provide a basis for your primary (your top ten) and secondary keywords.
So what are the issues with the above content? Vocabulary choice. Compound sentences.
Flesch Reading Ease Score is a formula that rates text on a 100-point scale. It looks at average number of syllables per word and words per sentence. In the SEO Writing world, you’re striving to get a perfect score (100). That means writing content that can be understood by readers with at least a fourth grade education.
A Little Better Grade
After shortening every sentence and removing words with multiple syllables, I got a marginally better grade. Sigh.
A keyword is not a word. It can be several words. It can be a phrase. For example, we use “What Is SEO” in our content. People searching for SEO services use this keyword. Now think about your customers. How do they look for your services? What problems do you solve? Use this information to create a top ten list of keywords.
Easier To Read Score
Here’s round three of my SEO Writing experiment. It was painful to reduce business concepts to ridiculously simple sentences. Mr. Flesch still didn’t like it. Argh.
A keyword is not a word. It can be two words. It can be a phrase. Here is an example. “What is SEO.” People who want SEO use this phrase. What about your customers? What words do they use? How do they find you? Now, create a list of ten search words. Use them on your website.
In my opinion, potential customers would run away if content like version two or three appeared on our blog or website. Yes, our job is to explain complex concepts simply. Yet it shouldn’t insult one’s intelligence. By the way, this post got a 76% score. I can live with that.
So, do you agree with me that readers are hungry for well-written web content?
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